The Drakes’ enthusiasm for Spanish wine has continued through the centuries and, almost 430 years later, we’re returning to Spain, this time not to plunder but instead to explore the country’s wine treasures.
If Spain’s wine industry was competing for the vini-world cup, it would surely be a contender for gold trophy status. This is a land of wine superlatives. For starters, it is responsible for some of the spiciest, most powerful red wines in Europe (if not the world). The grapes for these wines are grown in some of hottest and driest conditions in Europe. Spain also wins in the category of producing the world’s most widely-planted grape variety. This is actually a white grape and, astonishingly, it’s one which most of us have probably never heard of before (see Growing section of the website for more information).
This week I’ve updated the various sections of the Drake Vine to focus on Spain’s key growing regions – including Rioja, Navarra and Rias Baixas – and the country’s leading grape varieties, Tempranillo, Garnacha and Monastrell. The Drinking section of the website examines the main characteristics of wine made from these grapes, while the Pairing section explores some of the best food matches for these wines – these include tradional Spanish casseroles made from peppers and chorizo. Finally, in the Making section of the website, I outline the main styles of wine that are produced in regions such as Rioja, Jumilla and Calalunya.
As this week’s update of the Drake Vine shows, Spanish wine is about much more than just Sherry and Sangria. Next week we’re going to head over the border to neighbouring Portugal.